Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study Assesses Nations' Vulnerabilities to Reduced Mollusk Harvests from Ocean Acidification

03.08.2011
Changes in ocean chemistry due to increased carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are expected to damage shellfish populations around the world, but some nations will feel the impacts much sooner and more intensely than others, according to a study by scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).

As CO2 levels driven by fossil fuel use have increased in the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution, so has the amount of CO2 absorbed by the world’s oceans, leading to changes in the chemical make-up of seawater.

Known as ocean acidification, this decrease in pH creates a corrosive environment for some marine organisms such as corals, marine plankton, and shellfish that build carbonate shells or skeletons.

Mollusks—including mussels and oysters that support valuable marine fisheries—are particularly sensitive to these changes. The new study, which was published online July 7, 2011, by the journal Fish and Fisheries, assesses nations’ vulnerabilities to decreases in mollusk harvests caused by ocean acidification.

“Some of the most important functions that marine ecosystems provide are food and income from harvests,” said lead author Sarah Cooley, a marine geochemist at WHOI. “Nations around the world have different patterns of dependence on these marine resources, and those that depend heavily on mollusks will have to make some changes if they want to continue to have that resource readily available in the future.”

Among the nations expected to be most heavily impacted are Senegal, Madagascar, Gambia, Mozambique and Haiti. In addition to a high dependence on shellfish, they also currently lack mollusk aquaculture and are already struggling with protein deficiencies.

In order to assess each nation’s vulnerability, researchers examined several dependence factors: current mollusk production, consumption and export; the percentage of the population that depends on mollusks for their protein; projected population growth; and current and future aquaculture capacity.

Using surface ocean chemistry forecasts from a coupled climate-ocean model, researchers also identified each nation’s “transition decade,” or when future ocean chemistry will distinctly differ from that of 2010, and current mollusk harvest levels cannot be guaranteed. These changes are expected to occur during the next 10 to 50 years, with lower latitude countries seeing impacts sooner. Higher latitude regions have more variability, and organisms there may be more tolerant to changing conditions, Cooley said.

“Unfortunately for many poor and developing nations, they are not only the most vulnerable to the impacts of ocean acidification, but they will also experience profound chemical change sooner,” Cooley added.

Cooley cautions against interpreting the study’s results as a ranking of nations as losers or winners when it comes to acidification impacts. “It’s more appropriate to think of these results as one of the pieces of the puzzle related to marine environments in each nation,” she said. “We recognize that every nation has its own set of challenges and key issues that are important to the people there. Providing more information about this particular piece can help policymakers and other leaders prepare for those changes and perhaps mitigate the worst of them.”

“In particular, the transition decades suggest how quickly nations should implement strategies, such as increased aquaculture of resilient species, if they want to maintain current per capita mollusk harvests,” she added.

In addition to potential strategies for policymakers, Cooley said the study highlights the role knowledge and technology transfer from developing nations could play, as well as creative thinking about managing marine ecosystems.

“Ocean acidification is not the only thing affecting marine ecosystems. It’s one of many,” she continued. “Harvesting sustainably from the oceans means viewing all of the stressors on the ecosystems, keeping them in perspective and figuring out how to navigate amongst all of those things.”

Cooley and her colleagues hope to expand their research to include socioeconomic impacts on other fisheries species from acidification. To date, studies of ocean acidification’s effects on marine organisms have largely focused on calcifying mollusks.

“Mollusks are the clearest link we have at this point,” Cooley said. “As ocean acidification responses of fin fish become more apparent, and as we learn more about the biological relationships between mollusks and other animals, then we can start zeroing in on how non-mollusk fisheries can also be affected.”

Coauthors of the study are: Noelle Lucey, WHOI Marine Policy Center and Marine Affairs & Policy Division, Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science; Hauke Kite-Powell, WHOI Marine Policy Center; and Scott Doney, WHOI Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry Department.

This research was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Climate and Energy Decision Making Center and the WHOI Marine Policy Center.

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is a private, independent organization in Falmouth, Mass., dedicated to marine research, engineering, and higher education. Established in 1930 on a recommendation from the National Academy of Sciences, its primary mission is to understand the ocean and its interaction with the Earth as a whole, and to communicate a basic understanding of the ocean's role in the changing global environment.

WHOI Media Office | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.whoi.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Successful calculation of human and natural influence on cloud formation
04.11.2016 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Predicting unpredictability: Information theory offers new way to read ice cores

07.12.2016 | Earth Sciences

Sea ice hit record lows in November

07.12.2016 | Earth Sciences

New material could lead to erasable and rewriteable optical chips

07.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>